United voices, driving change in cancer care

There have been many breakthrough advances in cancer care over the years - from sophisticated diagnostics to innovative therapies, immunotherapies and precision medicines. While these offer new hope for some, for many they remain out of reach. Closing this care gap is a shared responsibility, and we must unite and take action to address these challenges.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be frightening; navigating the complexities of treatment and the impact of the disease on a person’s life is a challenging and daunting prospect. Although there have been significant advances in recent years, for many people across the globe, the concerns of a cancer diagnosis are exacerbated by struggles to access the care they need. Today, many cancers can be prevented, treated, and even cured, but due to inequities that impact care, half of the world’s population lacks access to the full range of essential health services.1 Geography, socioeconomic status and gender, among many factors, can impact a person’s ability to obtain screening, diagnosis and treatment. This has a severe impact on care worldwide; for example - more than 90% of cervical cancer mortality occurs in low- and middle-income countries,2 and there are notable differences in cancer-related outcomes for rural and non-rural patients, even in high-income settings such as the US.3

Such inequities are unacceptable. Addressing this issue requires collaboration and united voices, confronting truths together to take action, to close the care gap. It also requires ensuring that people everywhere have access to the care they need and deserve. As part of the World Cancer Day initiative, the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is drawing attention to this vital goal.

The UICC is the largest and oldest international cancer organisation, representing the world’s major cancer societies, ministries of health and patient groups. Each year since 2000, the initiative has aimed to spark conversations and provoke deeper dialogue on the most critical issues in cancer all around the world. This year, World Cancer Day is focused on ‘uniting our voices and taking action,’ to close the gap in access to cancer care.

Individual action, collective responsibility

At Roche, we share this vision; we are committed to closing the care gap and empowering those who work with us to do the same. Together, we are partnering with the global healthcare community to take action and bring us closer to the goal of advancing cancer care for all patients, everywhere. From diagnostics, where we are working with partners to improve access to advanced tests to provide faster and more accurate diagnoses, to research and development, where we are continuing to work with patients and the broader healthcare community to develop new treatments for rare cancers, we know that we all have a part to play.

Find out how we are working towards closing the care gap with unique contributions from across the world.

“Everyone deserves the cancer care they need, no matter who they are or where they live. This year for World Cancer Day, we at Roche are proud to be joining the global community, in uniting voices, to take action in closing the cancer care gap. We passionately believe in a better future of healthcare for all, and we are working towards this on World Cancer Day and every day.”
Diana Edralin
Roche General Manager, Philippines

Progress through partnerships

We know that we cannot close the care gap on our own. To truly improve outcomes for the millions of people who are diagnosed with cancer each year, we must collaborate. This means working together, from industry to governments to NGOs, calling on our individual expertise and shared drive to do better for patients everywhere. It also means listening to patients and the people closest to them, to understand the local context for truly tailored access solutions: we know that barriers to access can be incredibly varied, and we cannot settle for a one-size-fits-all approach to addressing them. Only through partnering to improve access at a local scale can we drive change to improve access globally.

WHO (World Health Organization) projected a shortfall of 10 million health workers by 2030, mostly in low- and lower-middle income countries.4 Through partnering with Project ECHO, we are supporting the training and mentoring of healthcare personnel in rural and underserved areas in India, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Canada, enabling the faster diagnosis and treatment of the patients they serve.

Across Asia, we are collaborating through Mission Leapfrog to improve access to healthcare. We are working with partners throughout the healthcare system to tackle complex issues and improve outcomes for those impacted by gaps in access.

We are also partnering to improve access on a country-specific scale, such as through the National Health Insurance Authority Act in Nigeria, which provides access to funding for medication, chemotherapy and radiotherapy services for people with breast, cervical and prostate cancers. In Kenya, the EMPOWER program is setting up clinics across the country, helping women in remote areas access screening and treatment, and through our partnership with the National Health Insurance Fund, we are helping to provide free breast cancer drugs to women who need them. Women like Frankline, whose life was saved by the initiative after her diagnosis. Find out more about her journey by watching this short film.

Early diagnosis and screening save lives

When diagnosed in the earliest stage, 9 in 10 women with ovarian cancer will survive their disease for more than five years. When diagnosed in the advanced stage, this drops to 1 in 10 women.5 Such figures are similar across many types of the disease, and show why cancer care is more than just treating a person once they are diagnosed; it goes beyond improving access to treatments. We must ensure that people are able to access screening and testing at an early stage. We are working to make this a reality, because we know that for a person with cancer, screening and early diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death. We recently partnered with the Johns Hopkins Program for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (Jhpiego) to improve women’s health outcomes by removing barriers to early detection and treatment.

Together, we can make change

The existing gaps in access to cancer care are unacceptable, but can be addressed, through true commitment and collaboration. We firmly believe that together, we can close the care gap, and bring cancer care to all patients, everywhere.

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  1. World Bank and World Health Organization. Half the world lacks access to essential health services, 100 million still pushed into extreme poverty because of health expenses [Internet; cited 2023 Jan 3]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news/item/13-12-2017-world-bank-and-who-half-the-world-lacks-access-to-essential-health-services-100-million-still-pushed-into-extreme-poverty-because-of-health-expenses

  2. Hull R, et al. Cervical cancer in low and middle-income countries. Oncol Lett. 2020 Sep;20(3):2058-2074.

  3. ASCO. Closing the Rural Cancer Care Gap: Three Institutional Approaches [Internet; cited 2023 Jan 3]. Available from: https://ascopubs.org/doi/pdfdirect/10.1200/OP.20.00174

  4. WHO: Healthforce - [Internet; cited 2023 Jan 11]. Available from: https://www.who.int/health-topics/health-workforce#tab=tab_1

  5. Cancer Research UK. Why is early diagnosis important? [internet; cited 2023 Jan 3]. Available from: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-symptoms/why-is-early-diagnosis-important

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